Andrew Houlihan retains lead at Baja Aragon 2023

Andrew Houlihan has retained his lead in the Veterans class and 3rd place overall in the 2023 FIM Baja World Cup despite a tough and challenging run in the 2023 Baja Aragón.

The event was held over 2 days – 21st and 22nd July – rather than the usual 3 because of elections in Spain. Shortening the event forced organisers to run 2 special stages on the final day.

Andrew Houlihan had travelled over 17,000 km to compete in the event, run in the mountainous region of Teruel Spain. He had left the relative cold winter weather in Australia to be greeted with 45° heat.

With 513km of special stages over just 2 days, the extreme heat and thick dusty conditions, riders found the event particularly challenging.

“Not the best race for me, a bad prologue had me start back in the field and it was a real struggle in the thick dust and extreme heat”, he said after the event.

“I just didn’t feel comfortable on the bike in these conditions.”

Consistency through the 3 special stages still allowed Houlihan to gain some good points with a 4th place in the vets class and 13th in the 450cc World Cup class.

The event attracted one of the biggest fields in Aragon history, including Dakar competitors Tosha Schareina (Honda CRF 450) and Lorenzo Santolino (Serco 450 SEF) who finished 1st and second respectively.

Mohammed Al-Balooshi, who went into the event as the championship leader, feels more at home in the desert environment of Dubai and struggled in the dry and dusty conditions. He finished 10th.

Tyre wear also proved to be a major factor. Excessive wear after the opening day’s 180km of competition persuaded members of the FIM jury to grant riders authorisation to change tyres between the two special sections on Saturday.

Andrew Houlihan was joined in Aragon by sponsor Adrian Channing from Channings Bottle Yard.

“A big thanks to Adrian Channing for his support and assistance here in Teruel. It’s been a great trip having him with me.”

Andrew now heads home to Albury for a week before heading to Hungary for the next round of the championship from the 10th to 12th August.